Artists use many tricks to create the illusion of solid objects existing in a three dimensional space:
- Linear Perspective
- Aerial or atmospheric perspective
But they had to work out how to do it first:
They could see that scale changes with distance; objects get smaller the farther away they are:
And obviously, if something is behind something else, it’s farther away, so they used overlapping to show depth:
And they could see that more distant objects are higher up on the picture plane, so they used vertical perspective to create distance:
Around 1300 Giotto started to get it:
These works all use intuitive perspective. The artists “eyeballed it,” overlapping objects and using vertical perspective to create the illusion of space.
Not bad, but a more scientific approach was needed. Around 1400 CE they figured it out. Can you imagine how excited they were? It must have been like magic. In fact, the story goes that one painter, Paolo Uccello, when called to bed by his wife, refused and replied, “What a sweet mistress this perspective is!”
One Point Linear Perspective:
The orthogonal lines converge at the vanishing point on the horizon line:
Two Point Linear Perspective:
The orthogonal lines “fall back” from a perpendicular line to two vanishing points on the horizon line:
See the difference?
Atmospheric or Aerial Perspective:
Distant objects are less distinct, bluer or “cooler.”
When an artist portrays an object receding or sharply projecting from the picture plane.
Another trick artists use is layering the picture into different zones:
Sometimes I think this is my favorite picture in the world.